- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 26, 2017

Both liberals and conservatives are rejecting a deal being pondered by Senate Democrats who would allow Judge Neil Gorsuch to earn a seat on the Supreme Court in exchange for a promise that the GOP won’t do away with the filibuster for future nominees.

A half-dozen Democrats are weighing the plan, Politico reported last week, arguing that Judge Gorsuch is likely to be confirmed but Democrats should try to squeeze some leverage for the next court fight.

They fear that if Democrats filibuster now, Republicans will trigger the “nuclear option” to change the rules and curtail the filibuster, confirming Judge Gorsuch and paving the path for President Trump’s future picks.

But liberal groups said they want a fight over Judge Gorsuch now, saying a deal would be seen as capitulation.

“Democrats need to stand firm in this fight and not accept an extreme and ideological nominee now in exchange for hazy promises about the future,” said People for the American Way’s Marge Baker.

Sen. Charles E. Grassley, Iowa Republican and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, shot down any talk of an agreement, saying Democrats don’t have any leverage.

“I don’t think they’re in a position to make a deal,” Mr. Grassley said.

Conservative groups said it was foolish to even think about striking a deal because Republicans have nothing to gain from it.

“When you make a deal, there’s normally something given on either side and if they don’t vote for Gorsuch, he still would be confirmed,” said Carrie Severino, chief counsel at the conservative Judicial Crisis Network. “I think that’s clear, so what do they think they’re giving exactly?”

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer last week announced Democrats will attempt to filibuster Judge Gorsuch.

Under current rules, it takes 60 votes to overcome a filibuster on high court nominees.

Republicans have 52 senators, so even if they are unified — which appears to be the case — they’d still need eight members of the Democratic Caucus to join them to break the filibuster.

So far, no Democrat has announced support for the nomination — though a large number are still publicly undecided.

If Democrats do filibuster, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has not ruled out using the nuclear option, which is a shortcut to change the rules and reduce the filibuster threshold from 60 votes to a mere majority.

Mr. McConnell has insisted that no matter what, Judge Gorsuch will be confirmed.

Democrats went “nuclear” in 2013, changing the filibuster rules for every other nomination save the Supreme Court.

Mr. Schumer backed that move at the time, though he now says the Supreme Court is different.

“The answer isn’t to change the rules, it’s to change the nominee,” he said in a floor speech Thursday.

Nan Aron, president of Alliance for Justice, said her group wants to see Democrats filibuster, and said any deal to undercut a showdown on Judge Gorsuch “would be a grave disservice to the process and to the Constitution.”

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